By People Staff
Updated November 20, 2008 12:00 AM
Credit: Mitchell Haaseth /NBC

She lost her dad and teammate in the first week’s individual elimination, but she persevered on her own for many weeks after. But on Tuesday’s Biggest Loser: Families, Coleen Skeabeck, whose dimpled smile and positive attitude made her one of the most popular members of the house, was eliminated. The 23-year-old from Cleveland, Ohio, who managed to stay far away from the hostilities in the house between Vicky, Heba and Phil, talked to PEOPLE about her tips for staying on-plan at home — including her Thanksgiving Day trick! — and reveals that she’s lost over 50 lbs. since joining the show. — Sara Hammel

You said you were on the Biggest Loser ranch to change your life, while Vicky was there to win the cash prize. Do you think that’s true for her?Vicky definitely knew the game better than anyone this entire season. She’s one of the biggest fans of the show. She knows how to play the game. Kudos to her for that. On the other hand, I’m not a game player. I did not know how to play the game to my advantage. I didn’t care about playing the game. I really and truly wanted to get this weight off because it’s been a burden on me my whole life. I just feel blessed to have been given the chance to go through the process.

What are you doing at home to keep moving forward with what you learned at the ranch?I am working with a personal trainer. I joined two gyms — one is open 24 hours a day. The gym is a 45-minute walk down the road for me. I’ve been doing as much cardio as I can. That’s really it. I’ve just been focusing on the finale, and I just want to stand on that stage and have my moment to shine.

During your emotional exchange with Jillian during the weigh-in, you both promised you’d stay in touch. Do you lean on her now for support?I am still in touch with Jillian. We exchange emails weekly if not daily. She’s behind me 100 percent. She told me from day one she believed in me to make the change I need to make. Without her support I don’t know how I could have done it.

Thanksgiving is coming up. What will you do differently this year?I was considering hiding! This Thanksgiving I am excited to say my sister, a bunch of my friends and my dad are all getting together Thanksgiving morning and running the Turkey Trot, the annual race here in Cleveland. I’m looking forward to it. When it comes to the food, because it’s so close to the finale, I’m not going to be coming to eat when everyone else is eating dinner. I’ll be coming a little bit later, and I’ll be eating at home. I am reserving calories for my boyfriend’s grandma’s pumpkin pie. It’s calories in, calories out. As long as I burn it off, it’s okay. And I’ve been going to the gym. I deserve a piece of pumpkin pie!

You were concerned about continuing your weight loss when you left the ranch. How have you handled being back at home?When I arrived home I was terrified. I just cleared my head and said, “You worked so hard to get where you are.” I took a moment to think about what I had to do each day to keep the weight off and to keep losing it. To me motivation is a huge problem. I tell myself, “This is how you live — and how you live happy.”

Are you avoiding all temptation?I have a very big weak spot for Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups, so I’ll allow myself to have that if I want it. Jillian taught me that you don’t have to completely give it up. You do have to factor it into your calories for the day. You don’t want to completely cut yourself out from it. To avoid temptation when I’m out with my friends, I realize it’s not worth the wasted calories for me. If I do give in, I have to make adjustments for the next day and burn them off.

What’s the biggest change in our routine now compared to before you went on the BL?I actually wake up, have my breakfast and I get moving. Before the ranch, I would get up whenever, lounge around the apartment all day long and not really be active. The biggest change for me is I’m very active, very much on the go and doing things with . Mitchell Haaseth /NBC